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4156.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Sport, June 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/06/2011   
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A PROFILE OF SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS 2009-10 WHO WILL YOU BE SITTING NEXT TO?


INTRODUCTION

Going to a football game or cricket match can bring people together and unite them in support of their team or love of sport. In this environment, friends, family and strangers alike engage in friendly banter, competition and rivalry. Attending sport also encourages interaction within the community, as identified by the Western Australian Department of Sport and Recreation (2011): 'Sport and recreation provides the catalyst for community gatherings, from small functions to major events, where people play, talk and share experiences' (Endnote 1).

In 2009-10, 43% or 7.6 million Australians attended a sporting event as a spectator. So who are these people? Does sport bring together people from different parts of society, or do certain types of people only attend particular sports?

This article presents data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2009-10 survey of Spectator Attendance at Sporting Events (cat. no. 4174.0) which collected information about people aged 15 years and over who attended sporting events (excluding junior and school sport) as spectators in the 12 months prior to interview.

The survey found that the six sports attended by the most Australian residents were:

      Australian Rules football (16%)
      Horse racing (11%)
      Rugby league (9%)
      Motor sports (8%)
      Soccer (outdoor; 5%)
      Cricket (outdoor; 4%)

By looking at characteristics, such as age, sex, marital status, income, education, occupation and country of birth, we can begin to develop a profile of the people who attended these six sports as spectators.


AGE

Overall, younger Australians were more likely to be sports spectators than older Australians. For the most popular sports, soccer had the highest proportion of young spectators, with 29% of attendees aged 15 to 24 years. Spectators at the cricket and horse racing also had a high proportion of spectators in the younger age groups, with 25% of all spectators aged 25 to 34 years for both sports. However, the age distribution for Australian Rules football spectators showed a different pattern, with approximately the same proportion of spectators in all age groups below 55 years of age. Those aged 65 years and over were the least likely to be spectators for the most popular sports.

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By age - 2009-10

SEX

Overall, the proportion of sports spectators who were men was significantly higher than the proportion who were women. Among the popular sports, the pattern was most evident for cricket, where 72% of all spectators were men, and motor sports, with 68% being men. In contrast, women represented almost half of the spectators at horse racing events (48%). About four in ten attendees of Australian Rules football, rugby league and soccer were women.

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By sex - 2009-10
Graph: SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By sex—2009-10



EQUIVALISED HOUSEHOLD INCOME

Attendance rates generally increased as equivalised household income increased. One quarter of those who attended horse racing and cricket had equivalised weekly household incomes in the highest quintile. Rugby league had similar attendance rates by those in the third, fourth and highest quintile. Less than 10% of attendees at each of the six most popular sports had incomes in the lowest quintile.

For further details about income quintiles and how equivalised household income is calculated, please refer to the Glossary of the ABS publication Spectator Attendance at Sporting Events, 2009-10.

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By equivalised weekly household income - quintiles: 2009-10
Graph: SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By equivalised weekly household income - quintiles: 2009-10



HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT

Overall, people who attended sporting events had higher levels of educational attainment, with 52% of spectators having completed a post-school qualification. For the most popular sports, cricket had the highest proportion of spectators with a bachelor degree or above (35%), while motor sports (15%) had the lowest. Of the people who attended Australian Rules football and soccer, the proportion who held a bachelor degree or higher qualification was similar (26% and 29% respectively). For rugby league and motor sports, almost a quarter of spectators had a highest level of educational attainment of year 10 or below (24% and 23% respectively). Most of these spectators were young people who were still attending school.

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a)(b), By highest educational attainment - 2009-10
Graph: SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a)(b), By highest educational attainment—2009-10



MARITAL STATUS

In 2009-10 married people were more likely to be spectators at sporting events overall (61%), compared with those who were not married. For the most popular sports, motor sports had the highest proportion of spectators who were married (62%), while soccer had the lowest proportion (53%). This may relate to the large percentage of people in the 15 to 24 year age range who attend soccer.

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By married people - 2009-10
Graph: SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By married people—2009-10



OCCUPATION

Overall, people in managerial and professional roles were more likely to attend sporting events. Looking at sporting event attendance using Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations 2006 (ANZSCO) First Edition (cat. no. 1220.0), for the most popular sports, cricket had the highest proportion of employed attendees who were managers and professionals (38%). Motor sports had the lowest level of employed spectators who were managers and professionals (25%) and the highest proportion of employed spectators who were technicians and trades workers (19%). Low levels of attendance were reported by community and personal service workers across all six sports (5%). Care should be taken when interpreting these results as large numbers of occupations were inadequately described for classification.

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By occupational classification - 2009-10
Graph: SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By occupational classification—2009-10



COUNTRY OF BIRTH

The majority of Australian residents who attended the six most popular sporting events were born in Australia (82%). Soccer had the highest proportion of spectators born outside of Australia (25%), possibly reflecting soccer's status as one of the most popular games in the world. Cricket had the second highest amount of spectators born outside of Australia (20%).

SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By born in Australia - 2009-10
Graph: SPECTATORS AT SELECTED SPORTING EVENTS (a), By born in Australia—2009-10


As is evident in the graphs above, there is a wide range of people who attend particular sporting events as spectators. So who are the different types of people at the most popular sporting events? Below is some information that may provide you with a guide to who you may be sitting next to the next time you are attending your favourite sports!


HORSE RACING AT A GLANCE
  • 52% of attendees are male
  • 58% are married
  • 25% are aged 25 to 34 years
  • 25% are in the highest household income quintile
  • 31% of employed attendees are Managers or Professionals
  • 25% of attendees have attained Year 11 or 12 education and 25% a bachelor degree or higher
  • 84% are born in Australia


CRICKET AT A GLANCE
  • 72% of people who attend cricket are male
  • 61% are married
  • 25% are aged 25 to 34 years
  • 25% are in the highest household income quintile
  • 38% of employed attendees are Managers or Professionals
  • 35% of attendees have a Bachelor degree or higher
  • 80% are born in Australia


RUGBY LEAGUE AT A GLANCE
  • 62% of attendees are male
  • 61% are married
  • 23% are aged 15 to 24 and a further 23% are aged 25 to 34 years
  • 21% are in the fourth household income quintile
  • 28% of employed attendees are Managers or Professionals
  • 24% of attendees have attained year 10 education or below
  • 83% were born in Australia


MOTOR SPORT AT A GLANCE
  • 68% of attendees are male
  • 62% are married
  • 24% are aged 15 to 24 years
  • 23% are in the fourth household income quintile
  • 19% of employed attendees occupation are technicians or trades worker field
  • 26% of attendees have attained a post-school certificate and a further 26% have completed year 11 or 12
  • 84% were born in Australia


SOCCER (OUTDOOR) AT A GLANCE
  • 62% of attendees are male
  • 53% are married
  • 29% are aged between 15 to 24 years
  • 21% are in the highest household income quintile
  • 28% of employed attendees are Managers or Professionals
  • 29% of attendees have a Bachelor degree or higher qualification
  • 75% are born in Australia


AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL AT A GLANCE
  • 59% of attendees are male
  • 61% are married
  • 19 to 21% of attendees are in each 10-year age group under 55 years of age
  • 23% are in the highest household income quintile
  • 32% of employed attendees are Managers or Professionals
  • 26% hold Bachelor degree or higher educational qualifications
  • 85% were born in Australia

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ENDNOTE

1. Western Australian Department of Sport and Recreation 2011, The Value of Sport and recreation, Accessed 23 March 2011,

<http://www.dsr.wa.gov.au/the-value-of-sport-and-recreation>


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